Interview with Sam Fell. May 4, 2015.
EFH: Sam, thank you for being with me. Can you tell me what you do with NSP?
SF: I am a reading and math tutor at Murray Language Academy in Angie Alvarado’s kindergarten class.
EFH: And what’s Murray like?
SF: Murray’s great. I’ve gotten to work with some amazing teachers. Angie’s actually a graduate of UTEP, the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program, and I love the community. We actually have one of the heads of the PTO working in my room as well. It’s just a really great community to get to be a part of.
EFH: And you’ve actually been at Murray for four years. Have you been working with kindergarten that whole time?
SF: I actually haven’t. I started, funnily enough, doing the afterschool chess program and then I transitioned into working in a kindergarten class when Ms. Luna was there. Then she won the Illinois Golden Apple and moved on. I’ve been in kindergarten for the past two years after that.
EFH: Wow, it seems like you’re getting to work with some pretty impressive people. What are your kindergarteners up to these days?
SF: So right now we’re working on the beginning, middle, and ending sounds of words, which is really fun, so like the ‘k’ sound and ‘t’ sound, et cetera, and we’re doing adding and subtracting for math.
EFH: And how are you working with the kids on those words? How does that happen?
SF: So we have a whole bunch of games we play—a lot of bingo, a lot of lotto. Then the students have to sound things out, so I’ll come to them and they’ll want to know how to spell certain words, and I’ll just say, “What makes this sound?” or “What makes that sound” or “Look at your word wall”, for instance.
EFH: What’s the best word you’ve had to spell so far?
SF: So, Tyler, who’s one of my favorite students actually, asked me, sort of through a bunch of questions, how he could spell out “kick my butt.”
EFH: So he did it stealthily?
SF: Yeah, I didn’t know what he was saying until I looked at his paper at the end of the class, and was like, “uh, Tyler…”
E: That’s pretty amazing! You just received an honor, the Duel Richardson Award for Four Years of Service. What has it been like to have NSP be such a constant part of your college experience, basically from day one to graduation?
SF: I’ve always been interested in education and education policy, and I’ve taken a lot of classes on urban policy, Chicago schools classes, but everyone says this about UChicago: that you really don’t get any real world experience in the classroom, and this is my chance to have real world experience, and see all the stuff that we talk about in the abstract in the classroom and how it applies in your day-to-day life.
EFH: And then, what are you doing after graduation?
SF: I’m actually going to be working at an education program and educational publishing company, Curriculum Associates, which I’m really excited about. I’m hoping to stay in education for a while.
EFH: Okay great, we hope that you stay in education. Thank you so much, Sam.
Sam Fell is a fourth year in the College. He has been working at Murray Language Academy since his first year. He is also a 2014-2015 recipient of the Duel Richardson Award for his four years of service with NSP.
Emily Fortune Hancock is the operations manager at the Neighborhood Schools Program.